The True Cost of Convenience

This post idea comes to you from the great mind of one my clients and good friends, and mentors 🙂 You know who you are.

5 for $5, Dollar Menus, Meal Deals, they all scream deals and steals – but at what cost?

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Sure they, are cheap, easy, and convenient – but do they make your life cheap, easy and convenient? Dig a little deeper, and we see that these meals are absolute calorie bombs, add up in the long term due to high costs associated with obesity, and make you feel sluggish, bloated, and downright greasy.

The National Institutes of Health released an extensive review article in the Obesity Review Journal in January of 2011 on the direct medical and healthcare costs of being overweight or obese in the United States.

After reviewing 33 journal articles, NIH researchers concluded that the average annual cost of being overweight is an additional $266 and the annual cost of being obese is $1723, with a total aggregate cost of overweight or obese is $199.3 billion (1).

Unfortunately, the percent of Americans that are overweight/obese is on the rise. Currently, 66% of Americans are overweight (BMI > 25) and 32% of those Americans are obese (BMI > 30). Researchers have concluded that if our country stays on the current path of weight gain, 86% of Americans could be overweight by the year 2030, with 51% of them being obese (2).

Along with potentially leading to obesity, these meal deals can lead you down a path to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and much more!

What do these “meal deals” provide?

Looking at the Burger King 5 for $4, this is an incredible amount of food for $4.00. Split between a few people and it could be somewhat calorie controlled. But lets be honest, we could all take it down by ourselves.

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At 1,130 calories, 155 grams of carbs, and 47 grams of fat, this could be close to the ENTIRE DAILY INTAKE for a smaller woman looking to lose body fat.

For a man, this could easily account for more than half of your daily calories.

Not to mention, most of the fat is from saturated and trans fats, along with very simple carbs – and very low protein.

Next, the 2 for $2 at McDonalds

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620 calories, 62 grams of carbs and 30 grams of fat. Another calorie bomb, and this is even without adding a nice fountain soda (pop to some of you) to wash it all down.

Lastly, we look at the Wendy’s 4 for $4 deal

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Once again, we see 1,030 calories, 118 grams of carbs, and 49 grams of fat.

Another huge intake, easily in one sitting.

If this was a theoretical day, it would look like this (compared to my goal intakes)

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Note the lower protein intake at only 85 grams for the day and still hitting almost 2800 calories. This is where this “diet” would really miss the mark if you were trying to optimize your body composition, lose fat, and feel better overall (myfitnesspal doesn’t take into account how this diet would make you feel, and the amount of time you might be spending on the toilet).

The 85 grams of protein comes out to measly 12% of total calories, not nearly enough to support a young man trying to get his muscle swell on or a busy woman trying hard to lose fat and get back into that red dress she has hanging in her closet.

At 2780 calories, I might be able to salvage my maintenance weight if I am training hard, and staying pretty active. Again, I don’t see this day being a very pleasant one however.

This level of calorie intake, and the given amounts of macronutrient intake will only be working against any goals you may have. The huge intake of carbs and fat will trigger big time fat storage, especially in a relatively sedentary individual, and the calories alone are likely to put most people into a surplus unless your name is JJ Watt or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

the-rock-cheat-meals*** I can bet the Rock doesn’t eat like this 24/7 – and he works his butt off in the gym***

“But these meals are all I have time for, and I can afford them easily!”

This is very narrow minded thinking. Yes they are affordable, yes they are convenient, but for what type of life? Who are you trying to be? Who are you in charge of feeding? Would you not sacrifice and extra 5 minutes a day to eat healthy, feed your kids better, and work towards the body of your dreams? You can find the time, I guarantee it.


But what about the cost?

This was my lunch today:


It took me 2 minutes to make.

Add a piece of fruit to it, and I would consider this a pretty healthy, and filling meal – chased with a nice glass of water of course.

Here is the nutrient breakdown:

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445 calories – very reasonable for someone looking to lose some fat.

39 grams of protein – great for a meal for anyone, 46 grams of carbs – coming from whole grain bread and fruit, and 12 grams of fat (not trans fats from fried garbage)

But what about the cost?

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No need for an explanation here, but at this cost, you can easily afford to take the time and afford the cost of making a healthy, balanced meal in minimal time.

While this is just one example of a meal, their are many other options out there that you can throw together quickly, afford the cost, and make the time for your and your families health.

Before you leave the office to grab an awesome meal deal at the nearest fast food joint, just remember what the real cost of that so called “convenient” food is, and what it is really doing to your body long term.

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Stay healthy my friends,


1. Tsai A, Williamson D, Glick H. Direct medical cost of overweight and obesity in the USA: A quantitative systematic review. Obesity Reviews. January 2011;12(1):50-61.

2. Wang Y, Beydoun MA, Liang L, Caballero B, Kumanyika SK. Will all Americans become overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity epidemic.Obesity. October 2008;16: 2323–2330.

Published by Mike Gorski

Registered Dietitian and Fitness Coach OWNER OF MG FIT LIFE LLC

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